A Cherished Life Guided by Divine Providence
By: Evelyn Fugazzi SCN
Softly falling snow could be viewed from the windows at Forest Hills Hospital in Boston, MA; Roderick MacDonald paced up and down the hall of the Maternity Unit; his wife, Irene, was birthing their joyfully long-expected baby. It was December 21, 1923 when precious little Barbara Elizabeth MacDonald, their only child, made her entrance. Theirs was a happy home in spite of her carpenter’s father’s chronic illness; her mother worked in a hospital dietary department. This did not keep her from teaching her daughter to cook including making homemade bread for daily use [Barbara states that she begged to have store-bought bread as a treat!] Barbara attended St. Raphael Grade School and St. Gregory High School, staffed by the Sisters of Notre Dame. These students were continually embarrassed on the school bus by boys from other schools, calling out, “Here come the black stocking girls!!!” Indeed in this very strict setting, students wore navy-blue uniforms and black stockings.
Her Mother, of French origin, and Father, of Scotch origin, had been raised in Nova Scotia, Mattie’s Settlement. They had great trust in Divine Providence as they ventured to the states looking for work. Mother often shared with Barbara fond memories of her boarding school days including curtains around her small cubicle; this fascinated Barbara. While she was in high school she missed many a typing class because the nuns would be lecturing her about the benefits of joining their Notre Dame Order but Barbara had different ideas! “So you entered the SCN’s?” She states, “You bet I did, the September after I graduated amidst the sad fact that my beloved Grandmother in Canada died the week I entered!”
Enroute to Kentucky, Barbara and Edith Getchell, [Sr. William Theresa SCN] arrived at St. Joseph Infirmary where they met other colleagues; they had a great time shopping including a visit to the ice-cream parlor where Barbara ordered “Pudding ice-cream”, her favorite in Massachusetts; the proprietor informed her that “Juicy-Fruit” would have to do; they did not sell pudding. The next day the girls were taken to Nazareth. On March 25th, Barbara received the habit and a new name, Sr. Anne Clement SCN; what made the day an extra glorious day was that her mother was there for a couple days. Also her Mother was there when Barbara made her vows and Barbara was sent on to her first mission, Mount Vernon, Ohio to teach Grades 5 and 6, the day before her mother left for home.
Barbara was missioned in Ohio, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Virginia over a period of 43 years. In1963, while missioned at St. Cecilia School in Louisville, her mother became ill. She returned home to care for her and applied for teaching positions near home. This resulted in her teaching with a variety of religious orders, mostly St. Joseph sisters, and in 1971, she began teaching very poor children at Mary Hemmingway Public School in Dorchester; she continued in Public Schools for the next 10 years. Barbara mostly taught the primary grades; she took special reading classes at Boston College and became certified as a Reading Teacher Specialist.
When Barbara shared plans for retirement from teaching, her principal pleaded with her to take on the school Librarian position. Barbara was upfront in responding that she knew little or nothing about library work. The principal assured Barbara that she would help her. She did not share that she had big-time plans for the library beginning with moving the library to a different location on the second floor. The principal used her own simplified method for moving the books; she simply gave students from the upper grades shopping bags and told them their job was to pull all the books from the shelves and line their bags of books along the second floor hallway. What fun for the students! What horror for Barbara when she arrived the first day of school to find the “new library room” completely empty!!! Needless to say, by the end of that year, Barbara could proudly look at the library room with every book in proper order as she gleefully bade a permanent farewell to work as a librarian.
In 1998, Barbara joined her living companion, Mary Dullea SCN, along with Julia Dullea in settling at David Hall, Nazareth, KY, later moved to O’Connell Hall, and finally to Carrico Hall 3. Barbara ministered at Montessori, then with Ann Murphy at Nazareth Arts as general assistant. She began and continues liturgical ministry plus helps in the Thrift Shop. Today she no longer can enjoy her former hobbies of cooking and sewing but is a vibrant member as she participates in local community activities. Barbara concludes, “As I reflect on my life in mission as a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, I realize that, just as my parents trusted in Divine Providence on their life journey, I too have had a cherished life guided by Divine Providence. My ministries through these past years have given me an opportunity to be of service to those with whom I have lived and worked with as well as the many students I have taught.”